October 11, 2004 by

Christopher Reeve


Categories: Actors, Extraordinary People, Heroes, Hollywood, Writers/Editors

creeve.jpgChristopher Reeve, a veteran actor who was best known for playing Superman, died on Oct. 10 of heart failure. He was 52.

The native New Yorker was only nine years old when he first tread the boards at the McCarter Theater in Princeton, N.J., during a production of “Yeoman of the Guard.” After graduating from Cornell University, Reeve played the evil Ben Harper on the CBS soap opera “Love of Life.” He studied at The Juilliard School (his roommate was Robin Williams), and landed his first Broadway role in “A Matter of Gravity,” a play starring Katharine Hepburn.

Although he was relatively unknown at the time, Reeve’s handsome face and athletic, 6-foot-4-inch body made him the ideal choice for the title role in the 1978 movie “Superman.” He performed most of his own stunts and portrayed the Man of Steel in three sequels. Not wanting to be typecast as a superhero, Reeve next portrayed a time-traveling playwright in the 1980 romance “Somewhere in Time,” a bumbling actor in the 1992 farce “Noises Off…,” an American politician in the 1993 Merchant Ivory period piece “The Remains of the Day,” and a famous war reporter in the 1994 political comedy “Speechless.”

Reeve’s professional and personal life took an unexpected turn in 1995. While riding in an equestrian competition in Culpeper, Va., he was thrown from his horse. The accident fractured the top two vertebrae in his neck, damaged his spinal cord and left him a quadriplegic. Determined to walk again, Reeve endured years of operations and physical therapy. He eventually regained sensation in his index finger, his left leg and areas of his left arm.

Reeve then went to Washington, where he lobbied Congress for better insurance protection of catastrophic injuries. He campaigned for an increase in funding for stem cell research in the hope that scientists may one day develop treatments and cures for paralysis. With his wife Dana, he opened the Christopher and Dana Reeve Paralysis Resource Center, a facility in Short Hills, N.J., that teaches paralyzed people how to live more independent lives.

Reeve also returned to show business. He made his directorial debut in 1997 with “In the Gloaming,” an HBO film that received five Emmy nominations and won four Cable Ace Awards. The following year, Reeve acted in a remake of the Alfred Hitchcock classic “Rear Window,” a performance that earned him a Screen Actors Guild award for best actor. He shared his life story in the books “Still Me” and “Nothing Is Impossible: Reflections on a New Life”; the audio versions, which Reeve narrated, received Grammy nominations. His star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame is located at 7021 Hollywood Blvd.

Reeve was receiving treatment for a severely infected pressure wound on Oct. 9 when he suffered a cardiac arrest and slipped into a coma. He is survived by his wife and three children, Matthew, 25, Alexandra, 21, and Will, 12.

Listen to a Tribute From NPR

Listen to an NPR Interview With Reeve

Nothing Is Impossible: Reflections On a New Life (Unabridged) Download “Nothing Is Impossible: Reflections on a New Life”

22 Responses to Christopher Reeve

  1. Jamie (HOOTS)

    I want to thank Christopher Reeves, for all the help and support that you have given my family. My older brother Jayson, which I know deep down is having a hard time with this, and my mother Jeanne, You were someone they look up to for advice, encouragement, to help an support my brother Jayson, (which is a head injury) with no speech, or walk, just motion of the head and right arm. Very hard to communicate in life, I know deep down for all the hard work you have done it won

  2. Vivianne Pearse

    Christopher was an inspiration to the world. He never gave up on life and he was blessed with a terrific wife who stood by him through it all. It is true that TRUE LOVE conquers all obstacles in life. May God be with Dana and his son.

  3. B B

    What a tradgy. A beautiful man struck down in the
    prime of his life. He never gave up and accomplished more than one could believe possible.
    He never lost that wonderful personality even when
    he had to talk with mechanical help. God Bless
    him for now his pain and grief is over. The world
    and Hollywood has lost a special person. Goodby
    Christopher Reed.

  4. Caireen Carroll

    I live in Albany NY and so many times I remember seeing Reeve at the Capital Building lobbing for causes to better our State. Many people do not realize he was so active in campaigning for an increase in funding for the environment, children causes, and human rights issues. They think he only started with spinal cord injury. It is so not true. He always thought of ours.
    The world is a better place because of him.
    May me dance among the stars, and sing with the gods.

  5. Dr. John Turner

    As a neurosurgeon and previous spinal-cord injury researcher, Mr. Reeve’s Nothing Is Impossible rings true and is an inspiration for us all. Spinal cord repair can be and will be done. His efforts will help to make this possibility a reality in the near future.

  6. SR

    Thank you Chris for keeping your vision alive of cures thru stem cell research. I believe I will be cured of type 1 diabetes within my lifetime and you gave me that hope. I always believed you would walk again and hoped the world could see it, but you’re free now and I’m sure you ran through those Pearly Gates!! You’ll always be loved and missed!

  7. jess

    I love ‘Superman’ he was great i don’t like the new one he’s not the same i wish chris didn’t die and i find him really great not only because he rode horses but he’s just fab no matter what good luck up there love jessxxxx

  8. Nick

    Christopher reeve has been an inspiration to so many people.the way he handle his disability will hopefully inspire many more.Hes also given hope to many people wih spinal injury and all kinds of illnesses.God bless him for the good work hes done,and the joy and hope he`s brought to many people.God bless his wife Diana and children for the love and support the gave Chris.God be with you Chris

  9. Vicki

    I had a dream months ago about Christopher Reeve, I woke up crying. Such a talented sportsman, a dedicated actor, this really seemed such a cruel accident.
    I have just finished reading his book “Still Me” which has given me more of an insight to who he was and what he faced. It also made me realise how lucky i am.
    I hope, somewhere, Christopher is jumping fences, or sailing right now and looking after his family, allbeit from a distance.

  10. kanth

    Weather you died as a superman in this world….
    But You Born As a supersoul in our heart….
    every time i watch his movie..I said to my dad..” dad,if i able to go to his country one day, the one that i want to meet his……..
    When the god take something from us….
    It means he wants to give it to us permanently…
    As a un forgetable memory……!!!!
    Thanks For Make me feel to fly for help people…
    fan that always dream to meet you..
    And i will do one day………

  11. Suzan R.

    It is “very” sad, about Dana Reeve. She,s with Christopher now, though. I,m sure theyre, both happy in heaven together. It,s been said that she never smoked, but I saw her with a cigarette, when she was on t,v. I guess, theyr,e trying to hide it, because I know she did smoke. God bless, her son, and family…

  12. annmarie

    God bless them and their families. These are people to admire. If there is one thing we can do in the course of the year to help their legacy go on, let us know. Post it here as well so everyone interested will try and help. If there were only more Reeves in this world what a better place it would be.

  13. Tiggers mom

    Christopher – When you left us here on earth, I weeped, you gave me the strength to bare the weight of my own child, you gave me the wisdom to prove to my child we are going to make it in this world with her new condition. You gave us the strength to know that anything is possible no matter what condition God puts in front of us, so long as family strength stands beside us. My family still stands beside us, hopefully with your stem research someday I will see my daughter walk again. If not from earth, from the stars above.

  14. Chichi

    Thank you so much, i loved the movie Superman and i have always dreamt that i could fly i want to say that you really did make a difference to my life and possibly others too!! Thank you and i will always remember you…

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